What is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that impacts an individual’s central nervous system. It is derived from amphetamine but generally has negative impacts that last longer and are more harmful to the body. Because of its addictive characteristics, this drug has a high potential for substance addiction. However, meth addiction treatment can help someone get back to a healthy lifestyle.
What Does Meth Look Like?
Depending on how the substance is used, methamphetamine may have a slightly different appearance. Characterized by its white, odorless, and bitter powder, meth can also appear crystal-likae in structure and resemble tiny fragments of glass or shiny bluish-white rocks.2
- Bikers coffee
- Black beauties
- Poor man’s cocaine
- Yellow Barn
Meth vs. Crystal Meth
Meth and crystal meth are the same substance. Crystal meth generally describes the drug in its most potent form. Crystal meth may be able to remain in the body for up twenty-four hours because of the drug’s half-life of being between six and fifteen hours. In some instances, the meth half-life indicates that the drug may be able to stay in the body for even up to thirty hours.
Crystal meth is a form of meth that simply looks like crystals or rocks. In addition, crystal meth, also known as “ice,” may have a stronger impact on the body. Because crystal meth is the purest form of the drug, it does have the most potent effects.3
Drug schedule refers to how the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies certain substances. Schedule II drugs are substances that have a high potential for substance abuse and may lead to psychological dependency and substance addiction. Because of its highly addictive potential, methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug.4
Effects of Meth Addiction
Meth has several negative impacts on the body. Because the substance provides a high risk for drug abuse, it is important to get treatment as soon as possible. Even so, the side effects of meth can be found in the sections below.
Short-Term Side Effects
Because methamphetamine is a powerful stimulant, small doses can make an individual feel more awake, more physically active, and even have a decreased appetite. Some of the other short-term meth side effects include:
- Increased attention
- Decreased fatigue
- Increased activity, feeling more awake, decreased appetite
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased respiration
Long-Term Meth Side Effects
Long-term use of methamphetamine has several negative impacts on the body. Moreover, crystal meth addiction is chronic and may even make changes to the brain.
Research on primate brains has found that those who use methamphetamine can experience structural and functional changes in the areas of the brain implicated in emotion and memory. Additionally, research has shown in primates that methamphetamine may contribute to a decline in mental flexibility, which may also contribute to why relapse is so likely to occur.5
Over time, individuals who have a crystal meth addiction may experience the following issues:
- Changes in brain structure and function
- Deficits in thinking skills
- Deficits in motor skills
- Memory loss
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Disturbances of mood
- Dental problems
- Weight loss
Methamphetamine tolerance refers to the process in which a substance’s effects decrease over time. It typically occurs when an individual misuses a drug and needs to take more to achieve similar highs as when they first took it. Tolerance may influence someone to take more of the substance and may lead to an overdose.
When an individual develops a tolerance for meth, they become dependent on it. Someone can tell when they are dependent on a drug because they will feel the effects of withdrawal and may need to take more of that substance to experience the same effects.
Meth withdrawal is characterized by depression, anxiety, fatigue, and an increase in cravings for methamphetamine. Drug withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and should be addressed when an individual receives meth addiction treatment.
Methamphetamine is one of the leading causes of all drug doses. In fact, meth overdose claimed the lives of over 67,000 people within the United States in 2018. Meth overdose is treatable if performed quickly. If you notice the signs of meth overdose, call 911 immediately. Some of these symptoms to watch for meth overdose include:7
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or confusion, like the signs of a heart attack or stroke
- High or low blood pressure
- High body temperatures, also known as hyperthermia
- Kidney failure
- Stomach pain
- Changes in personality or alertness
- Lost consciousness
- Aggressive behavior
Meth Addiction Treatment
Luckily, there are many options for meth addiction treatment. While behavioral meth addiction treatment options are the most effective, other types of therapies such as the Matrix Model can help. Incentive-based programs also may be viable treatment options. For individuals who suffer from substance addiction, attending treatment can assist in meth addiction recovery.
Some of the more common meth addiction treatment options include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- Inpatient rehab
- Outpatient rehab
Relapse is a common part of any meth addiction treatment, and many people may go through relapse as part of the healing process. However, there are several management techniques to help someone avoid relapse during treatment.
Causes of Relapse
Those who struggle with addiction and substance abuse may experience relapse. While the reason why someone relapses will depend on many factors, it’s important to understand that meth addiction treatment is not easy. When someone leaves a treatment center and goes out into the world, they find themselves encountering stressors and a variety of potential problems.
Without a proper support system, it can be difficult to adjust to life on their own. Additionally, individuals may find themselves without their core group of friends and may need to rekindle relationships with old family and friends. It can all be very stressful, and that person needs to learn how to cope with stressors in their life without the use of methamphetamine. If someone finds it too difficult to cope with the stressors of daily life, they may relapse.7
Relapse Warning Signs
To prevent relapse during meth addiction treatment, it is essential to recognize the warning signs. While many people claim that they have been able to recognize the signs of relapse in hindsight, you should understand that warning signs may begin weeks or even months before the relapse occurs. Warning signs of a methamphetamine relapse may include:7
- Feelings of being overwhelmed with stress or problems
- Not expressing emotions
- Isolation from family and friends
- No longer attending recovery support meetings or participating in meth addiction treatment
- Focusing on another person’s problems instead of one’s own
- Poor habits of self-care
- Not getting enough sleep
- Poor eating habits
- Thinking or talking about people in places that are associated with meth use
- Minimizing the consequences of meth use
- Talking about the good times associated with meth use
- Justifying reasons to use
- Looking for opportunities to use or be around meth
- Meth cravings
Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan
Understanding and recognizing the signs of relapse can help with the recovery process. Along with identifying relapse signs, creating a relapse prevention plan can help keep that individual on track during their meth addiction treatment. Some of these steps to follow in creating a relapse prevention plan include assessing one’s history with drugs and alcohol, determining the relapse signs, and establishing the best actions to take.